Are Garter Snakes dangerous? — Mark’s student essay

Are Garter Snakes Dangerous?

Garter snakes are one of the most common snakes that can be found around the U.S and are mostly found in meadows, gardens, and grassy areas. While many people have learned about venomous snakes like the King Cobra and the giant constrictors like the Anaconda, the garter snake is actually not dangerous to humans.

According to Garter Snake Facts, an article written by Jessie Szalay for Live science  in 2014 Garter snakes are non-venomous and their bite usually causes minor swelling or itching in people. The only way for them to be dangerous is if someone has an allergic reaction to their saliva but cases involving these reactions are very rare.

Some Garter snake species possess a mild neurotoxin venom but this has no effect on humans.  Some people will actually keep Garter snakes as pets due to how they are mostly passive in nature and their ability in keeping rodents or unwanted pests out of a yard. Garter snakes tend to feed on fish, amphibians, earthworms and sometimes larger prey so there is no need to worry about them hurting common pets like dogs and cats.

Garter snakes are also shy reptiles. According to The Harmless Garter Snake is Your Garden’s Best Friend, an article written by John Perritano for HowStuffWorks in 2019 Garter snakes avoid humans and pets at all cost. If anything, you want to be living in an area known for having garter snakes since they can act as a form of security for a garden and protect your flowers and plants.

 The reason why some people may believe Garter snakes are dangerous is the media and internet. Anyone can type in the word ‘snake’ into a google search and see various species of snakes from all shapes, sizes and danger levels. However, oftentimes people are taught to stay away from snakes that are venomous and live in certain areas. 

Garter snake sticking out tongue

The only problem with this is, when you encounter a snake that you can’t identify, what should you do? This can cause people to fear creatures like the peaceful Garter snake because they can’t easily identify whether the snake is actually dangerous to them or not.

Eastern Garter Snake isolated on white background

Overall, Garter snakes are peaceful reptiles and people shouldn’t be concerned when they encounter one. They are snakes that only bite when they feel threatened and tend to stay away from people. Garter snakes can even be taken home as pets from pet stores or breeders.

These snakes are more of a positive for people to have than a negative since they can keep unwanted insects and critters out of your yard and allow your vegetation to grow without interference. While they contain a small neurotoxin in their saliva, this won’t have any effect on people even if they are bitten and this can easily be treated by using water and cleaning the part of the body that was bit. As long as people know when to keep their distance from them and make sure none of them find a way into your home or garage then they serve no problem to anyone.

Author: Mark Daniels

Western Washington University
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